Bureau of Reclamation Five-Year Plan to Flood Grand Canyon Not Environmentally Sound

 
PRESS RELEASE
  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date:   March 6, 2008
Contact:   David Nimkin, National Parks Conservation Association, 801-521-0785


Bureau of Reclamation Five-Year Plan to Flood Grand Canyon Not Environmentally Sound

Plan ignores scientific data and potentially devastating effects at Grand Canyon

Flagstaff, AZ– The nation’s leading voice for the national parks, the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), today expressed grave concern over the Bureau of Reclamation’s (BOR) five-year experimental release plan for the Colorado River, seemingly without concern for future impacts to the ecological and cultural integrity of Grand Canyon National Park, including the federally endangered humpback chub fish.

“The Bureau of Reclamation has moved ahead with their shortsighted plan for flooding the Grand Canyon, ignoring the input of the National Park Service and the best available science,” said NPCA Southwest Regional Director David Nimkin. “It is irresponsible of the Department of Interior to ignore the environmental impacts this plan will have on the Grand Canyon for the sake of hydropower and other priorities.”

The BOR’s plan calls for just one high-flow release to occur downstream from the Glen Canyon Dam and through Grand Canyon National Park, which happened yesterday. The flood is as an attempt to recreate natural spring floods that occurred before the dam was built in the 1960s, redistributing sediment deposits throughout the canyon. However, the experimental plan fails to include follow-up floods, which are critical to ensuring that endangered fish and sandbars are preserved. Instead, it calls for steady releases during September and October over the next five years  –essentially locking-in smaller flows from the dam in order to generate additional power – when larger flows might be more beneficial to the park’s ecosystem at other times of the year, particularly in the spring.

In comments submitted to the BOR raising concerns about their environmental assessment, NPCA is supportive of a high-flow release from the Glen Canyon Dam, which began yesterday in Arizona, but strongly feels that a lack of additional high flows, informed by ongoing scientific research, could lead to impairment of the natural and cultural resources of Grand Canyon National Park.

“By failing to adequately consider the best available science, it is our belief that the Bureau of Reclamation plan does not appropriately respond to the Grand Canyon Protection Act and is not in compliance with the 2006 Grand Canyon Management Policies,” Nimkin continued. “It’s a shame that the Department of Interior is locking in a scientifically inaccurate, misguided five-year plan for the Glen Canyon Dam so that future Administrations cannot balance the interests of energy demands and the protection of our precious national parks.” 

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